Vocal Cord Nodules

Vocal Cord Nodules

Why do singers get them and how to avoid them

Vocal cord nodules are benign growths or bumps that form on your vocal cords. They are sometimes called singer’s nodules or nodes and result from repetitive overuse or misuse of the voice. These growths develop in the midpoint of the vocal folds and look like callouses under the microscope. They are caused by ongoing friction between the vocal cords which results in the formation of these growths over time. Anyone can get vocal cord nodules, including children. But these growths are more likely to form in women between the ages of 20 and 50 and in boys. The increased risk in these groups of people may have to do with the size of their larynx but it is known that nodules are a very common problem among singers.

Vocal cord nodules can be a very distressing situation for any singer to face. You can have a hard time reaching higher octaves because nodules reduce the range, and some singers can even lose their voice entirely. They can cause the voice to sound raspy, breathy or hoarse. Your voice may crack or cut in and out as the bumps prevent your vocal cords from vibrating normally. Some famous singers known to have developed vocal nodules are Luciano Pavarotti, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Freddie Mercury, and Joss Stone. Several other singers are known to have had their vocal nodules surgically treated. These are Justin Timberlake, Sam Smith, Tove Lo, Adele, Björk, Shirley Manson, Keith Urban, John Mayer and Rod Stewart. It is said that poor vocal habits are very often the main cause of the problem. Once the doctor has confirmed the presence of vocal cord nodules by means of a stroboscopy then treatment starts. They may recommend vocal hygiene, voice therapy and certainly vocal rest. The singer will need to avoid singing, yelling, and whispering to bring down swelling and give nodules time to heal.

Simple behaviours like increasing hydration and maintaining a healthy diet can also help resolve the problem, while improvements in one’s vocal technique under the guidance of a properly trained therapist can help minimize the chance that the nodules will ever recur. In some instances, medications such as steroids can help shrink surrounding inflammation and may allow a professional voice to get through a particular singing event. At times managing reflux and allergy symptoms is necessary because these can cause the vocal cords to swell and create nodules. Surgery is considered only for nodules that don’t resolve after an adequate course of voice therapy and/or medical intervention. Mariah Carey was forced to resort to surgery after having tried natural stretching techniques for four years. After just three weeks of silence, her cords were considered as good as pre-nodule. She actually thanks her vocal cord nodules for allowing her to hit the whistle register notes that she is so famous for!

Article written by BRIDGET MONCADO

Leave a Reply